Rasa: Devotion

ras-d.jpg (23k) Rasa: Devotion
(Hearts of Space - 2000)

The Middle-Eastern sounds of Devotion are appropriately reverent, delivered with crisp, clean Anglo-reinterpretations of prayers, chants and devotional love songs.

At the forefront of Rasa's culture-transcending tunes, Kim Waters' adept vocal talents ring out in ancient tongues. With a few other players, multi-ethnic-instrumental support is in the skilled hands of Hans Christian, who provides production and engineering duty as well.

Silky synthtones lead to Gopinatha, where subtle ethnic percussion is applied; Waters' resonant voice sweetly overlays all, to be joined by sinuous sarangi strands. Bhajahu Re Mana seems to wash back on forth on a gently rippling ocean of Indian instrumentation, adorned with Kim's sung, and whispered, phrases, indecipherable and mysterious to my American ears. A devotional song of ceremonial ecstacy, Arati smolders with an intriguingly sultry innocence.

In Ganesha Sharanam (8:54) an ancient Sanskrit chant, hushed vocals are multi-tracked over a quietly pattering bed of tabla rhythms, while the twangly (that's a cross between twangy and jangly, in case you didn't know...) sounds of Christian's nyckelharpa entwine with smooth cello strains. Opening on densely droning harmonium and strings accented with faintly twinkling bells, a medieval-ish lilt fills Mama Mandire with a bittersweet beauty. Underscored by plodding beats, the intitally slower rhythm of Jiv Jago is counterpointed with intricately fluttering strings. Water's vocals emerge as the pace picks up with envigorating bass and tabla accompaniment.

Another ancient chant receives a modern update; Govinda Jaya Jaya (5:01) is backed by lightly hovering electronics, which are soon joined by further percussive and instrumental sounds from Christian. Krishna Das contributes male vocals for a duet with Waters in Jaya Radha Madhava. Harmonious chords are uplifted by a growing haze of dancing instrumentation, as Das' voice erupts into an agile chant.

While the obvious comparison for Rasa's ethno-female sound would be Dead Can Dance, Waters' vocal stylings actually remind me more of Enya in a Middle-Eastern mood; you can take that as a green, red or yellow light, as your personal taste dictates. I'm generally enchanted by the serene, flavorful hour of lovingly rendered Devotion, an 8.3 World Music excursion.

For a more masculine, modernized take on ethnic sounds, HOS sublabel World Class has also just released Shafqat Ali Khan's debut.

This review posted May 29, 2000

AmbiEntrance © 2000-1997 by David J Opdyke (except CD cover art, rights retained by original owners).